- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Justice Department lawyers want a federal court to reverse its decision last week to free without bail a Maryland man suspected in a scheme by Islamic extremists to engage in “holy jihad” to drive India out of the disputed territory of Kashmir in South Asia.

In papers filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, prosecutors called Masoud Ahmad Khan, 31, a danger to the community and a flight risk, saying he had access to automatic weapons and had received firearms training as a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Mr. Khan’s release Monday was ordered by U.S. Magistrate T. Rawles Jones Jr., subject to electronic monitoring and other restrictions. The government asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to overturn the order, and a hearing in the matter is scheduled for today.

Because of delays in finding a global positioning system that could be used to track his whereabouts, Mr. Khan has remained in custody. Judge Brinkema used the delay to grant the government’s request to keep him in custody until it could file its appeal.

Mr. Khan was among 11 men named last week in a 41-count federal grand jury indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Alexandria accusing them of conspiracy to “prepare for and engage in violent jihad” against foreign targets in Kashmir, the Philippines and Chechnya. Nine of the 11 were identified as U.S. citizens.

During a May 8 search of Mr. Khan’s Gaithersburg home, FBI agents found several weapons, including an AK-47-style rifle, and a document called “The Terrorist’s Handbook,” which contained instructions for explosives and chemical weapons.

Prosecutors said Mr. Khan left Maryland shortly after the September 11 attacks to attend a camp in Pakistan run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, where he trained in using a machine gun, rocket-propelled grenade, AK-47 assault rifle and 12 mm anti-aircraft gun. They said he also completed an application in April for a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, whose Alexandria office investigated the case, said the men “purchased and distributed weapons and ammunition in pursuit of violent jihad” and secretly plotted during meetings in Virginia and Maryland to carry out the scheme. Kashmir is a border area claimed by India as well as Pakistan.

FBI agents took six of the men into custody last week after early morning raids at their homes in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Two others already were in custody. At least a dozen homes were searched during the raids, and agents confiscated an assortment of weapons, ammunition and high-powered scopes.

In addition to Mr. Khan, those in custody are Randall Todd Royer, 30, of Falls Church; Ahmed al-Hamdi of Alexandria; Yong Ki Kwon, 27, of Fairfax; Mohammed Aatique, 30, of Norristown, Pa.; Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35, of Falls Church; Donald Thomas Surratt, 30, of Suitland; and Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem, 29, of Arlington.

Three others — Sabri Benkhala, 28; Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, 27; and Seifullah Chapman, 30, the latter two from Alexandria — are believed to be in Saudi Arabia.

Authorities said there was no information that the men had planned any attacks in the United States, although the indictment said they had “an intent to serve in armed hostility against the United States” and that Mr. Khan had an Internet photo of the FBI headquarters in Washington.

Search warrants in the probe sought “materials relating to any kind of military-style training, jihad, violence against the United States, support of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and/or any other terrorist group.” They also authorized the seizure of literature concerning Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Mr. McNulty said that from early 2000 through May, the men trained at shooting ranges and other locations in Maryland and Virginia with AK-47 assault rifles and other military weapons and equipment for possible military action in Kashmir. He said they also used and attempted to use false and altered passports to carry out the scheme.

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